Why Are Babies Born So Young? *

by | Sep 16, 2021

Last week I experienced one of the miracles of life — the birth of a grandchild. Everett Olshansky was born on 9 September weighing in at 6 pounds 6 ounces; he’s as healthy as can be. Everett was age zero (0) on his Birth Day, and that may sound silly since all babies are born that age, but the egg and sperm that came together to generate him were much older.

My son was 33 when Everett was conceived, so the sperm was derived from a 34 year old germ cell that makes sperm for a living. My daughter-in-law was 31 when conception occurred, and the egg that led to Everett was actually carried by his maternal grandmother about 32 years ago; and it hung out in his mother’s ovaries for more than three decades.

How is it possible for 32 and 33 year old germ cells to generate a new life that begins at age zero?

Clearly there is an ‘age reset’ occurring, but exactly how and when this happens has been a mystery in the field of aging. More importantly, can understanding how, why, and when this reset occurs be used in some way to generate meaningful therapeutics that positively influence human aging, health, and longevity? Is it possible to find a way to reset or rejuvenate the age of various components of the human body, or the whole body itself?

Sound far-fetched? This question has become so important in the field of aging that it recently attracted the attention of billionaires who are now providing massive funding for aging science with the goal of discovering how to translate our knowledge of how cells reset their age, into therapeutic interventions designed to reverse the aging of adults. What does this mean exactly? It means that adults (or parts of the body) could theoretically revert back to a younger version of themselves, with all of its attendant effects on the extension of lifespan and healthspan.

You read that correctly! Age reversal has been the subject of science fiction for the last hundred years, and while you shouldn’t expect an age reversal therapy to come online in our immediate future, what we do know is that natural selection has already found a way to reset age to zero.

The question for scientists now is not whether the lofty goal of age reversal of a whole organism is plausible, but whether tapping into this evolution-based program that resets aging to zero offers opportunities to ameliorate or reverse some of the signs and signals of aging in cells, tissues, and whole organs — yielding an extended period of healthy life as a result.

Whether whole organisms like you and I can ever be made into younger versions of ourselves is fun to speculate on, but don’t get your hopes up just yet.

This effort to understand and use nature’s reset function to improve human health and longevity is called “reprogramming technology”, and you might want to keep your ear close to this field of science since this work most definitely has the potential to influence multiple industries — including life settlements. 

Scientists at Lapetus are directly involved in research on aging biology; we personally know many of the scientists involved in reprogramming; and we have our finger on the pulse of how rapidly this industry is moving toward a therapeutic intervention.

There is an old saying in the field of aging: “young people dream of being rich, and rich people dream of being young.” A new aging research laboratory was just launched called Alcor Labs that is being funded by the richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos (and other billionaires like Yuri Milner), with the goal of translating aging science into therapeutics that alter and potentially reverse aging in adults. They’re paying $1M annual salaries to rock star scientists in the field of aging to speed up the process of discovery.  

Both Bezos and Milner are in their late 50s. Their goal I would imagine is to contribute to the science that launches age reversal technology in their lifetime. Even if age reversal doesn’t happen soon, there are enough exciting developments in the field of aging now — including more than two dozen clinical trials already underway to test other aging therapeutics — that some important new discovery is likely to occur in time for readers of this newsletter to benefit. 

At Lapetus we bring this knowledge of aging science — and potential therapeutics — to our assessments of life expectancy in life settlement cohorts.

* This is not a new question. Dr. Carol Bernstein addressed this question years ago in an article in 1979 in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.